tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN March 7, 2018 3:29pm-5:29pm EST
objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. the legislation we're considering today has been portrayed as modest, you know, not that big a deal, doesn't really matter that much, something to -- something narrowly to help community banks, credit unions and regional lenders like the three institutions in my state, huntington, key, and fifth-third, all things i pretty much support, unfortunately, that is not what this bill ultimately does. i tried for months to work with chairman crapo, whom i respect, and i mean that, to work on a commonsense package of reforms aimed at community banks, credit unions and small financial institutions. we had a lot of agreement on that and then the creep began, and the expansion began and leaking into this process where all kinds of help for bigger banks. these are the local lenders that
we want to help that fuel homeownership pship and -- homeownership in our communities like in cleveland, in parma, westchester, banks that we lost when the big banks crashed in the economy a decade ago. i know that those who get lots of money from wall street like to blame dodd-frank for so many community banks for going out of business, but it really was what led up to the crash, including the crash that caused so many community banks to go out of business. here's how this place works. i think most senators understand this. if they don't understand it, it they don't want to understand it. when the big banks, when wall street -- when the lobbyists, and there are hundreds in this town -- when the big banks spot some legislation crawling through this body, when they see a bill in front of the senate or house that might help some small
institutions, you know what they do? they see an opportunity. they see an opportunity to grap more for themselves. -- grab more for themselves. it's the history of this country. we know what happens whenever congress listens to wall street and listens to the big banks and wall street and the big banks get their way, inevitably the economy stumbles, or worse crashes, because we've given too much to the big banks, they put too much risk on the system, and places like my zip code, cleveland, ohio, my zip code in 2007 had more foreclosures than any sphwhrip code in the -- zip code in the united states of america. that's not because anybody in my neighborhood has anything that they deserve this. it is what happened when big banks get too powerful and this is what happens. we see wall street moving in and grabbing more for themselves,
despite the fact that some of these big banks wouldn't exist today without tape bailouts of -- taxpayer bailouts. you remember that. we didn't bail out the big banks because we -- or a least most of us didn't -- we didn't want to bail out the big banks to help big banks but to help main street, to help the economy. so these -- these -- these wall street lobbyists that have swarmed into this institution to grab more for themselves, as i said, despite the fact they wouldn't exist without taxpayer bailouts, despite the fact that wall street banks are making record profits, and despite the fact that this truct that this -- tax cut that this body jammed through congress, 81% of the tax cuts of that bill over time guess to the -- goes to the richest 1% in this country. you've got taxpayers bailing out
the big banks, and then you've got this huge, huge tax cut to go to the big banks, and now they want more. they want legislation that will weaken rules and make the big banks even more profitable. they always want more to understand it's american history, it's what we've seen in the last ten years, it's what we've seen since the great depression, the big banks always want more and it's always at the expense of everyone else. this legislation gives them exactly what they want. listen to this. not long ago a bank lobbyist, one of the top bank lobbyists working for the bank association, said we don't want a seat at the table, we want the whole table. they are about to get it under this bill, the whole table. this bill weakens stress tests for the 38 biggest banks in this country, including wells fargo, bank of america, j.p. morgan
chase, hsbc, citigroup, you know these banks. these banks in the aggregate are almost half of the assets of the banks of this country. these banks together took $239 billion in taxpayer bailouts. that is $239,000 billion dollars. stress tests are the best tests to make sure another bailout happens again. this bill changes the requirement for what present loss, semiannual stress tests. instead of tests twice a year, they will be periodic. what is that? we don't know. the bill doesn't define it. the former fed gov dernor trullio has called this quite vague with what type of tests is contemplated for these banks. we also know something else
always, when congress writes vague laws using words like periodic, vague, semiannual, when congress does that, bank lawyers are really good, smart, well paid, bank lawyers can drive a truck through those loopholes. do we want to give the current crowd in charge more leeway? a white house that looks like a retreat for wall street executives. we're talking about former administrative stock. are these the people we want to trust to interpret vague words like periodic. this legislation weakens oversight of foreign banks operating in the united states, many of which have a track record of breaking u.s. laws. think about that. we're not only deregulating a number of these large banks in this country, we have singled out that we're going to give a break to foreign banks. let me talk about the wrap
sheet, santanders, they repossessed cars from the military of those serving our country overseas. we have somebody from wright patterson air force base, santander repossessed his or her car when he or she was serving overseas, but we are going to give a break to that bank or deutsche bank, businessman trump's favorite bank. deutsche bank manipulated the interest rates. we're going to give deutsche bank a break? barkley's, british bank manipulated the markets in western markets. my constituents don't live in the areas that were hurt like that but a whole lot of people do in this country. swiss bank, credit swiss, who illegally did business with iran. i know what the presiding officer thinks of iran, the
senator from arkansas, yet, all of us are going to vote for a bill that rewards a swiss bank that illegally did business with iran? is that the message we want to send? i guess it is. it goes on and on. we are rewarding these foreign banks who have defrauded our constituents and our government and clearly didn't have much regard for u.s. law, we're going to give them breaks? again, we've heard from governor tarullo, we've heard from former fed chair volcker. we've heard from bloom raskin on this. they don't want to lose the foreign bank oversight. they're joined by republican regulators, former regulators like sheila bair and others who think this bill doesn't make sense. the bill also requires the fed to further weaken the rules just for the dozen or so banks with $250 billion in assets. it subverts the fed's
independence, subjects the fed to pressure from treasury secretary, the same treasury secretary who foreclosed on 40,000 americans at one west. we are giving more power to help the banks to a treasury secretary who before he became treasury secretaryd playe a major role in foreclosi 40,000 homes, including hundreds of homes in mytate of ohio. it opens the door for more lawsuits when banks try to avoid the rules they don't like. as former commodities future trading commission chair gary tkpwepbts letter wrote to the senate last week this change may subject the government to additional lobbying and possible litigation from individual banks seeking specially tailored rules. you know what, mr. president? back about ten years ago when president, when president obama signed the dodd-frank law, that same day the top financial service lobbyists in this town, the day obama signed the bill, the day the president signed
dodd-frank, the head of the top financial services lobbyists in this town said, well, folks, now it's half time. what did he mean? he meant we lost the first half, but we're going to go to work to do everything we can to repeal as much, to block and misinterpret and reinterpret and eventually scale back and repeal as much of this law as we can. they went to work on after the agencies. this is the culmination of their efforts. they now have a pro-wall street majority in the senate, a pro-wall street majority in the house, a president whose office looks like a retreat for wall street executives, and they are ready to go to help wall street, even though i don't know when, maybe the senator from massachusetts knows, one year, two years, five years, ten years, 20 years from now, it makes it more likely. in fact, the congressional budget office recently said that this bill will make a bailout more lely and that it's a $672 million giveaway to wall street.
this bill makes a change -- this bill makes another change to big bank rules that now stops them from borrowing more money than they can afford. "the new york times" described this provision as weakening rules aimed at keeping banks from being able to take big risks without properly preparing for disaster. just let that sink in because ohio families know how bad a disaster can be, aimed at keeping banks from being able to take big risks without properly preparing for disaster. isn't that what we want? don't we want bank regulators, do we want bank rules to stop the big banks from taking risks that could end up in a disaster? because as i said, my neighborhood knows what disaster is. as i said, in 2007 more foreclosures in my zip code in the first half of that year than any zip code in america. but, you know, families in my state were hurt by this. people's retirement accounts, meme lost their jobs, homes, all
that. wall street came out of that has disaster just fine. i'm thinking none of them probably had their houses foreclosed on. i know nobody who tanked the economy went to jail. most of the folks in new york and washington are doing just fine. they might not appreciate what disaster means when we talk about the economy but hof families who lost their -- but ohio families who lost their homes know what that means. you know what else about my zip code? for 14 years in a row there were more foreclosures in my state each year than there were the previous year. that's a statistic and maybe you don't know any of those people but the fact is every time that happened people lost their possessions, their lives turned upside down. their kids had to go to a different school. they probably lost their family pet because they couldn't afford that. one thing after another in those families. we don't think much about them. mr. president, here's how to
think about this roll back, bank capital requirements are like a dam that keeps the risks inside the bank. it keeps the risks from flooding out into the rest of the country. if the banks are going to take risks you want to keep it contained in the bank so only the bank gets hurt by it. but this bill punches hole in that ramy loosening the -- on dam by loosening the rul on five of the biggest banks. once it starts to leak, it could spill out and harm taxpayers and retirees and bank customers. these banks have $5 trillion in combined assets. should we feel safer with a weaker dam around a potential $5 trillion flood of banking risks, banking assets? if that weren't bad enough we have a team of lap dogs at our financial agency that think this bill is just a starting point. think about who they are and i don't come to this floor to attack individual people but i come to this floor to point out the history of some of these regulators.
secretary of the treasury mnuchin was a bank executive that foreclosed on -- that ran about a bank that foreclosed on thousands of customers many of them unfairly or possibly illegally. one of his top people, mr. otting the new comptroller of the currency. mulvaney thinks it shouldn't exist. randal quarles the head of supervision at the federal reserve, he said in the bush treasury department that things were fine in our country. these are the people we've entrusted to do the regulation, to hold back this dam that they have weakened legislatively. they are the ones charged withholding it back? mr. president, if we want to help community banks, let's help community banks. let's not try to sell -- the same way this majority sold the tax cut bill, we talked about
the tax cut, this is a tax cut for the middle class. well, 81% of the benefits over time went to the wealthiest 1%, so it wasn't a tax cut for the middle class any more than this is a bill for community bankers. community bankers will get help. i want to do that. all of us on the floor want to do that. that is not what this bill really does. we want to help banks, let's help community banks. we want to help credit unions? let's help credit unions. we want to help raoepblg tphals tphals -- regionals like fifth third? why do the biggest banks have to say give me more? let's take wells fargo. what has wells fargo done to deserve an ounce of leniency? that is a bank that created northern 3.5 million fake -- created more than 3.5 million fake accounts. it illegally forced unwanted auto insurance on customers and charged homeowners improper fees to lock in their mortgage rate, so why would we want to help
them with this bill. last week the bank disclosed more problems with its money management unit. why do we want to help wells fargo with this bill? it's a bank that outsources jobs. 600 call center jobs have been sent overseas by wells fargo in the last year. why do we want to help that bank in this bill? for those lucky enough to keep these jobs, it is a bank that mistreats its workers punishing them with a high pressure sales culture and some of them lost their jobs as a result. yet this bank, like the other big banks, they want more. this congress, i don't know why, but this congress wants to give it to them apparently. so what has the senate done to respond to wells fargo's misbehavior? well, first of all, republicans a couple of months ago passed a $1.5 trillion, that's a thousand billion, $1.5 trillion tax cut, one of the biggest beneficiaries? wells fargo. what did they do with that money? they say they gave a little bit to employees. they say maybe they'll invest a
little more. what they really did, they announced they're going to buy back $22 million of stock this year. that's money that, when they buy back stock, the price of the stock goes up. and executives and shareholders are enriched. the stock buyback investment, the $22 billion, they are spending to buy back stock, that's 288 times -- 288 times what wells fargo will spend on pay raises for its workers. so it gives a little bit to its workers. it gives, whatever it gives to its workers multiply by almost 300, that's what the executives are going to get. executives and shareholders. why are we doing favors for wells fargo in this bill? it's not just wells fargo. what has hsbc done to deserve special treatment? since the crisis the department of justice prosecuted the bank for laundering money. in the midst of an addiction crisis, we're going to reward a bank that illegally laundered money for a drug cartel, to a
drug cartel? why are we doing any favors for citigroup? last month citigroup announced it systematically overcharged almost two million of its customers on their credit cards? why are we giving a single ounce of help to these big banks? they're repeat offenders. not only are they repeat offenders, and we as we help these big banks in this bill, we say we want to help the community banks, these repeat offender big banks are banks that compete with our local lenders and probably will put more and more of them out of business as these bigger banks get more and more powerful. the four biggest banks held 6% of industry assets in 1984. okay, 1984, 33 years ago, 34 years ago, the four largest banks in the country held 6% of industry assets. today the four largest banks hold 51% of industry assets. so what we're doing is giving them more. what we're doing is giving them more. think about that.
30 years ago, 30-plus years ago the biggest banks held one of every $16 of banking assets. now they hold one out of every 2. think about how many community banks these big banks have been able to gobble up. this bill will lead to more consolidation, more cons -- concentration. one investor talking about this bill said it could kick start bank mergers and acquisitions. what that means in plain english is big banks will get bigger. we're helping the big banks get bigger and we're falling over ourselves this week to help these banks because they just don't have enough. but we're doing nothing for consumers this week. we're doing nothing for workers. we're doing nothing for those tipped employees that the department of labor is squeezing out of their, cheating out of their tips, basically legalizing wage theft. we're doing nothing for
middle-class workers. we're doing nothing for those supervisors making $30,000, $40,000 a year that are having their overtime taken from them. we're doing nothing for them. if we're trying to help our community banks and credit unions, why give favors to their big competitors, the big banks. this isn't the weather. we can do something about the challenges ohio faces. we can stop these crises. we can stop these crises that tear apart families and entire communities. we can do that by stopping this bill to begin with. don't take my word for it. the congressional budget office says the risk of another financial crisiss very low right now because we passed, because of the rules we passed in dodd-frank. dwell on that for a moment. they said the risk of another financial crisis right now is very low because of the rules we passed in dodd-frank. but they went on, this bill increases the risk of another bank failure and another bank bailout. all my, all my particularly conservative friends in this
body always talk about how they hate bailouts. we're always against bailouts. they're against bailouts for middle-class families. their voting record doesn't show they're against bailouts for the rich. that's another subject. this bill we're about to vote on this week, that the banking industry is salivating over, the bill they can't wait to pass to get to the president's desk and we know the advisors sitting around the president, the people in the oval office, the people in the cabinet room, they are whispering in the president's ear, mr. president, you're going to sign this bill. this is going to be great. the president said in his campaign we've got to go after dodd-frank. all the big bankers in the country know this is going to be a great thing. but we're spending all this time doing this to help the big banks. but again, nothing for workers. nothing for middle-class employees. nothing for consumers. nothing -- nothing for infrastructure, all the things we ought to be doing. i'm just not willing to ask
taxpayers to take that gamble of increasing the chances of another bank bailout. we don't have to. we could amend this bill just to help the small community banks and credit unions that we all agree should be helped. we can amend this bill to help in a modest way to help the regional banks that have generally been good actors in this equation. i'm offering amendments this week, mr. president, that would do just that. we don't have to give the big banks more just because they come here, just because they have the best lobbyists, just because they ask for it. we don't have to be at their beck and call. let's do this right this week. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: mr. president, i want to commend senator brown for leading the fight to oppose rollbacks for wall street banks. he has been tireless in the
fight on behalf of ohio families and obehalf of families all across this country, and i thank m ry much for his work. this is a tough fight. mr. president, this week nearly ten years to the day, after we first discovered that big banks crashed our economy, washington is about to take many of those same giant banks off the government watch list. i doubt that this makes any sense to any of the millions and millions of americans who experienced firsthand the economic horrors of the financial collapse. oh, but it makes perfect sense in weaker where -- washington where people can erase their memories. this would protect consumers and prevent another economic meltdown. i talked about how this scraps a lot of consumer protections for
a lot of families buying homes. in addition to squeezing consumers, it loosens the hold on some of the same banks that wrecked our economy. ten years ago a bunch of enormous banks got giant bailouts while american consumers got a punch in the gut. the excuse was that these banks were so connected with one another that the failure of one could bring the rest of the system down too. too bad, they said, we have to bail them out. individual families, however, could be crushed under foot. they weren't big enough to be worth saving by congress. congress passed the huge bailout, but to keep this from ever happening again, congress decided to put the small number of american banks that controlled more than $50 billion in assets.
this is about 40 of the largest banks in the country, to put them on a watch list. those banks would be under tougherrsight and would be subject to some stronger rules to stop them from bringing down the economy again. a small bank in adams, massachusetts, would be regulated one way and a giant bank with offices around the country and around the globe would get a much closer look. that makes real sense. if this bill passes, washington will scrap those rules for 25 of those enormous banks. under this bill, a bank that controls up to a quarter of a trillion dollars in assets and has offices around the country and around the globe will follow the same rules and regulations and same oversight as a tiny, little bank in adams, massachusetts.
now, that's great if you are a quarter of a trillion dollar bank, but not so great for anyone else. this bill isn't about restrictions on asset measures and investments, it's not appropriate leverage ratios an pro proprietary trading. it is from keeping hardworking families from getting crushed from another financial crisis. it is about a congress that isn't here to do the bidding of quarter trillion dollar banks. it is about a congress that is supposed to be working for the american people. right after the financial crisis, before i ever thought about running for the senate, congress put me in charge of an independent panel that was supposed to police the bailout money. we all heard hearings around the country to talk to people who had been punched in the gut by the financial crisis. i will never forget one witness i met at a hearing in las vegas. his name was mr. estrada, he was
the father of two little girls. he wore a jacket over his t-shirt, had a red marine corps baseball cap. he and his wife both worked and stretched the budget to buy a home that would get their girls into a good school and their house was right across the street from the school. he was very proud of his house. when the payments on their mortgage jumped, mr. and mrs. estrada fell behind. he tried to negotiate with the bank. he thought the bank negotiated a settlement and, poof, the house was sold at auction. in the end, he said, the bankers tell me that i have 14 days to get my children out of the house. mr. estrada explained what happened next. my 6ear-d came home the other day with aull sheet of paper with all her friends' names on it and she told me that these were the people who were
going to miss her because we were going to have to be moving. and i told my daughter, i says, i don't care if i have to live in a van, you're still going to be able to go to this school. i'm trusting in god that we're going to be able to be back into this house again. several times while he testified, mr. estrada paused while he tried to get control of himself, and the pain and the desperation seemed to push all of the air out of the room. and i'm here to ask today, who in the united states senate will fight for mr. estrada? who will fight for the millions of other americans who paid the price because big banks gambled with the economy and lost? i'm here to fight for everyone who in 2008 had to tell their children to pack up their toys
because we have to move. i'm here to fight for every american who worked a lifetime, did everything right and saved for retirement only to watch their savings go up in smoke. i'm here to fight for every small business owner who had to shut their doors on years of long hours and sweat and hope and tell their employees not to come back the next day. i'm here to fight for those hardworking employees who lost their jobs, and i'm here to fight for all those americans who kept fighting through the crisis no matter how hard it was to keep pushing and who years -- yearser aft corporate profits rebounded and theanks were riding high on wall street again, finally got their families back on their feet. that's who i'm fighting for. and on the other side, an army of bank lobbyists who are fighting for some of the biggest banks in this country.
now, that's not what they'll tell you. they'll tell you, oh, this isn't about big banks at all. no. the lobbyists swear up and down, they are fighting for small banks, banks that aren't risky and didn't cause the financial crisis, and they'll make up all sorts of claims about how the banks are struggling under these new rules. never mind. banks
of all sizes are making record-breaking profits. give me a break. this is about goosing the bottom line and executive bonuses of banks. this is the very, very tippy, tippy top. your local community bank doesn't have a quarter of a trillion dollars in assets. your local community bank doesn't own the naming rights to a stadium or a ballpark. this bill is designed to help a handful of giant banks that
together control more money than the nominal g.d.p. of more than 100 independent nations on planet earth. these are not small banks, and the idea that these wealthy and powerful banks need congress to step in and protect them from having to follow some commonsense rules would be down right laughable if it weren't so dangerous. how big and important are these banks to the financial system? just look at what happened in 2008. during the financial crisis some of the very same big banks that will be deregulated by this bill sucked down nearly $50 billion in taxpayer bailout money. that's taxpayer money. money that could have gone to building roads or building bridges or building schools or medical research, but that went instead into propping up big
failing banks. and now the senate wants to turn loose those big banks again. and it's not just the bailouts. banks with less than a quarter of a trillion dollars in assets helped cause the financial crisis in the first place. remember countrywide? in its 2006 annual report right in the middle of the housing boon, countrywide reported that it had $199
billion in assets, which would put it right smack in the middle of the pack of the banks that would be taken off the watch list. countrywide made billions of dollars by scamming consumers. at its peak, it was the biggest mortgage lender in the country. it was also a subprime specialist, an expert on trapping people in tricky loans that they didn't understand and couldn't afford. countrywide was obsessed with
making as many loans as possible and squeezing out the competition. they gobbled up fees and downpayments and then sold those risky loans before they blew up. and wall street gobbled up those loans, packaged them, and sold them on down the line just as quickly as countrywide could make them. how could this happen? how could it happen? one reason is that the feds had been really easy on countrywide. in fact, countrywide was allowed to pick its own regulator, the office of thrift supervision, which cuddled up so close to these banks that it was supposed to be policing that after the financial crisis, congress actually abolished the regulator. eventually, bank of america bought the bank at a bargain price and its owners lost money on the countrywide deal. poor bank of america.
of course, that was nothing -- nothing compared to what people with retirement accounts lost when their investments tanked. it was certainly nothing like what mr. estrada and his little girls suffered because banks like countrywide pushedff mortgages with hidden fees or exploding payments on their little families. countrywide scam mortgages were one of the main causes of this financial crisis, and if countrywide were still around today, this bill would make it easier for them to escape government oversight. and that is just plain reckless. we know banks at this size can help bring down the financial system. we know banks of this size demand billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts when things go wrong. that should be the end of the conversation, but it isn't, not right here in washington.
consider this. the banks that are being deregulated under this bill have done nothing -- nothing to earn our trust and deference since the financial crisis. instead, these banks had engaged in breaking the law left and right. let's talk about a few of them. suntrust. suntrust has $208 billion in assets, and so would be deregulated under this bill. they would be cut loose. in 2014, suntrust agreed to pay $320 million to settle claims that it misused bailout money that was supposed to help distressed home owners. the law enforcement agency that led this investigation said that the bank litally took homeowners applications to modify their mortgages, tos sed them in a room and ignored them. there were so many applications
that the floor in that room buckled under the weight of the documents. think about that. think -- they got almost $5 billion in taxpayer bailout money, they promised to help homeowners, and then they just threw out the application forms for that help on to a pile that was so big that it made the floor buckle, and now this congress is offering to help loosen the oversight on that bank. or how about santandare has $132 billion in assets. they could be cut loose on this bill. less than a year ago they were nabbed by the attorney generals of delaware for funding auto loans it knew that their customers couldn't pay by using paperwork that they knew were
doctored. pretty brazen fraud and now this government is helping to loosen the oversight on that bank as well. there are financial institutions caught discriminating against customers. allied financial has $164 billion in assets. they would be cut loose by this bill. in 2013, allied financial paid $98 million to settle charges that it discriminated against minority borrowers in providing auto loans. the scam was pretty tax rate forward, -- straightforward, charge african americans and hispanic more than white people. white borrowers paid, on average, $200 to $300 more than white borrowers with similar profiles. this congress is helping to
loosen oversight of this bank as well. and then there are the banks that cheated investors. barkley's u.s. has $175 billion in assets, they could be cut loose by this bill. in 2015 barkley's was among the handful of banks charged record fines by the federal reserve for manipulating foreign exchange markets. barkley's traders clueded with traders from other banks to share intel and to push the market up or down in whatever direction profited them. and now this congress is helping to loosen oversight on barkle barkley's. last year the fed caught pbp pariva i the same game. it has $146 billion in assets and they could be cut loose by
this bill. and now congress is offering to help loosen oversight on pnb pariva. and now there are the banks that got caught violating sanctions. the bank mitsibishi has $155 billion in assets. they could be cut loose by this bank. the bank of -- bank of tokyo mitsibishi settled with the department of financial services for $250 million over charges that it cleared tens of thousands of transactions. d.s.f. estimated that the bank wired more than $100 billion to countries that were under u.s. sanctions including iran, sudan and burma. the bank specifically tried to evade sanctions by telling employees to leave destination
information out of the wire instructions of money going to those countries so they could fool the regulators. and now this congress is helping to loosen oversight on the bank of tokyo mitsibishi. let's pause on this one. washington thinks this bank needs less oversight a year after it got caught funneling money to dangerous regimes and then trying to cheat rather than fix the problem. so a state banking regulator was so alarmed by this, they actually put an independent monitor inside the bank to keep an eye on them. and now republicans and democrats have decided that this is a bank we can trust. this is nuts. these are banks that taxpayers
bailed out ten years ago. they've cheated customers, cheat communities, cheat market, and endanger our national security and still republicans and democrats are joining together to loosen oversight over these banks. so what is this all about? what is it really all about? you won't hear this coming from the supporters of this bill, but it's the truth. it's about letting these banks snap up smaller banks. it's about more consolidation in the banking industry. it's about goosing banking profits and expanding executive bonuses. it sure as heck not about increased lending. these banks are sitting on mountains of cash that they could lend at any time. just look at their profits. bb&t made more than $2.25 billion. suntrust pocketed a cool $2.3
billion. m&t clocked in at $1.3 billion. i could go on and on. in fact, instead of lerchedzing more money -- of lending more money, these banks have been plowing their massive earnings into stock buybacks. just last month m&t bank announced it was spending an additional $745 million to repurchase stock. a few weeks later, fifth third authorized buying back $3 billion in stock. every single one of those dollars could have been put to new small business oans or could -- small business loans or could have been put to home mortgages. instead they went to goosing the bank's stock price and putting bigger bonuses in executives' pockets. does anyone -- anyone really think that if the banks have even more money to burn, they
will completely change course and pour that money into lending? to ask the question is to answer the question. and these banks aren't exactly acting like they're starving for cash. at least not when they set their executives' paychecks. in 2016 the head of regions made more than $15 million -- $14 million all inform the c.e.o. of huntington, almost $9 million not including almost another quarter of a million dollars that the company spent to cover the c.e.o.'s personal use of its jet. the c.e.o. of key corp. made $7.1 million. the c.e.o. of c.i.t. group made the same, up from $3.2 million the previous year. that's not all. the good times are rolling at these banks. zions bank held a swanky party to kick off the sun dance film
festival this year with a cute little hot chocolate bar. american express just opened a shiny new regional headquarters building which cost $200 million. if this law passes and if these bankers sitting around a shiny new table in their gorgeous new headquarters decide to gamble just a little bit more, just like they did in the leadup to the financial crisis, regulators may not even know it. if lying back in their plush seats of their corporate jets they cook up some kind of risky, complicated investment that nobody understands until after it goes bad, regulators probably won't catch it in time. and if their bets fail, these more dangerous banks are more likely to crumble and more likely to bring the rest of the economy with them. this is madness.
this is greed run wild. these rules have kept us safe for almost a decade, even as the same banks have chomped at every regulation and tried to evade every rule, and now -- and now washington is about to make it easier for the banks to run up risk, make it easier to put our constituents at risk, make it easier to put american families in danger just so that the c.e.o.'s of these banks can get a new corporate jet and add a shiningy floor to corporate headquarters. -- shiny floor to corporate headquarters. despite everything they've done to cheat their customers and endanger the financial system, those big banks will always have their advocates here in washington. but what about mr. estrada and
what about the millions of working americans like him who want washington to think about them for a change. mr. estrada can't afford to hire a lobbyist and he can't cut a campaign check and can't host a d.c. fund-raiser at a steakhouse and the result, it seems, is that every republican in this chamber and far too many democrats will lie down with the banks and ignore mr. estrada and his two little girls. we should be working for people like mr. estrada and not for the big banks. mr. estrada earned it. the big banks did not. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the aence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. the reason i came to speak on the floor right now is to talk about an issue that many in washington would prefer to ignore, and that is the climate changes that are being caused by our carbon pollution. mr. president, that's how i began these speeches, with that sentence on april 18, 2012, from this desk. i have returned week after week to try to make sure that there
would not be silence in the senate on the climate crisis. this is my 199th weekly foray. next week will make it an even 200. back on that april wedneay in 2012, debate about climate change had all but died here in congress. just a few years prior the house of representatives had passed the waxman-markey cap and trade bill led by our colleague now, the senator from massachusetts. in this body, republican colleagues had openly acknowledged the existence of climate change and called for legislative action to cut carbon emissions. since john chafee, climate change had been a bipartisan
concern. but in 2010 came the supreme court's disastrous citizens united decision, which allowed the fossil fuel industry to unleash limitless dark money on our elections. the polluters' money and threats cast a shadow across any republican who might work on carbon pollution, and it ended that bipartisanship. when i gave that first speech, even the white house had thrown in the towel on climate change. after letting waxman-markey die on the vine. you couldn't get them to put the words climate and change in the same paragraph, at least not until the president engaged on this issue in his speech in june of 2013.
washington had gone dark on climate. i knew i couldn't match the financial muscle of the big polluters, but i believed that if anything was going to change around here, we would need to shine a little light on the facts and on the sophisticated scheme of denial being perpetrated by the polluters. so i decided to put at least my little light to work, and i started these speeches. the last six years unfortunately have offered no shortage of bad climate news and dubious milestones. the four hottest years ever recorded have occurred since i began giving these speeches. global warming is, of course,
driven by the build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. when i gave the first time to wake up speech in april 2012, the concentration of co2 in the atmosphere was 396 parts per million. today it's at 408. it's never been so high in the history of the human species. it's not just the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that's been rising. so has the sea, as warming seawater expands and glaciers melt, making our coasts particularly in my ocean state evermore vulnerable to flooding. and the oceans are becoming more acid, becau ocean water reacts chemically with the heightened
carbon concentration in the atmosphere. during the six years i've been giving these speeches, the u.s. has experienced more and more extreme weather events, many of which scientists tell us are linked to climate change, from deadly storms, including 2012's hurricane sandy and 2017's harvey, irma and maria to california's record drought and wildfires, to temperatures so warm in the alaskan arctic that the computer algorithms thought the thermometer had broken. in 2017 alone, the string of u.s. extreme weather disasters, six major hurricanes, wildfires in the west, catastrophic mudslides, temperature records breaking all over the country caused well north of $300 billion in damage and killed
more than 300 people. the last six years provide us with a menacing preview of things to come. scientists, including scientists at all of our home state universities, say these changes are driven by carbon pollution. our national security leaders warned of the increasing danger of international strife caused by climate change as well as its threat to u.s. military facilities and force readiness. faith leaders urge us to protect creation and those less fortunate than we are, led by pope francis, who on this has been magnificent. the insurance and credit rating industries, whose business models depend on accurate and responsible assessment of risk
warn us, as do major american corporations and -l leading investors, folks who can't let climate politics interfere with their bottom lines. i've spoken about them all. i also visited states across the country to see for myself and to talk to people firsthand, folks who know climate change is real because they see it where they live, because they study it. in north carolina, business leaders were organizing to protect the local coastal economy from climate change and associated sea level rise. in south carolina, tide gauges in charleston were up over ten inches since the 1920's. in georgia, i went out on the water with a clammer w showed me how changes in climate are
hurting his livelihood. in florida the army corps officials in jacksonville gave me a dire presentation of what the sea level rise portends for the sunshine state. in ohio, i saw the ice cores from far-away glaciers that record our looming client catastrophe. in utah, the ski resorts feared climate change will ruin their greatest snow on earth. i know the presiding officer takes great pride in utah's greatest snow on earth. in pennsylvania, child health specialists from the children's hospital of philadelphia see climate change worsening children's asthma. in iowa, des moines water works was busy preparing the city for more frequent and severe climate-driven flooding. in arizona, they're changing the
staffing for emergency responders facing summer temperatures the human body cannot sustain. new hampshire was forecasting that its state bird may no longer be seen as its range moves ever northward out of new hampshire on our warming planet. i traveled on to texas, iowa, nebraska, delaware, and more. i brought stories to this floor from every corner of the country, hoping that colleagues would heed the warnings from their own home states. to match what i was hearing from rhode island, from rhode island's coastal towns and scientists and fishermen. sheldon, it's getting weird out there, i was told. it's not my grandfather's ocean. many democratic colleagues
joined me to discuss the changes they see in their home states, including 30 colleagues who held the floor all night long in 2014. in july of 2016, 18 senators and i took to the senate floor for days to expose the fossil funded front groups behind the campaign to deny climate science and stymie legislative action. there is a whole carefully built apparatus, phony baloney front groups designed to look and sound like they are real, messages honed by public relations experts to sound like they are truthful, scientists on the fossil fuel payroll who
polluters can trot out as needed. mr. president, this industry-fueled misinformation campaign has been a theme of these speeches. i relayed the findings of researchers who studied the flow of money through the climate denial network and journalists who uncovered exxon's coverup of what they knew of the climate dangers. i compared the fossil fuel polluter playbook to the fraudulent tactics of the tobacco industry to bury the truth about the health effects of cigarettes. i listened to conservative economists and offered market-based solutions. back in march 2013, i described the market failure of carbon pollution not being baked into the price of the product. market economics doesn't work
when corporations can just offload their costs on to the general public. it's called a negative externalanality in economics jargon and we see it all around us in storm-damaged homes, flooded cities, drought-stricken farms and raging wildfires, the big oil companies and the coal barons have offloaded those costs on to society. virtually every republican who has thought the climate change problem through to a solution comes to the same place, put a price on carbon emissions, let the market work, and return the revenues to the american public. this concept is supported by a
who's who of former republican cabinet officials and former presidential economic advisors. i listened and in 2014, i introduced with senator schatz the carbon economic fee act. to establish an economy fee on carbon dioxide, correct the market failure, promote energy innovation, and, of course, dramatically reduce carbon pollution. i've seen over the years of these speeches that the landscape is shifting. the senate has actually held votes showing that a majority here believes climate change is real, not a hoax. and is driven by human activity. it took years, but i guess that
counts for progress around here. outside of congress, the paris agreement in 2015 committed the nations of the world to keep global warming below two degrees celsius by reducing carbon emissions. america's part was the clean power plan to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by one-third by 2030 by 2005 levels. automakers adopted new standards for -- for cars and light trucks. cars would get less per gallon saving consumers bms of dollars. e.p.a. issued rules in 2016 to limit the flaring of methane, a
much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide at oil and gas wells. the obama administration had the kanali, which has heat-trapping properties in the atmosphere. secretary kerry convened wildly successful international oceans conferences, which are still ongoing and scheduled for years ahead to address the warming and the acidification of the seas. in sum, up through 2016, even if congress was trapped in fossil fuel muck, the united states was still making slow but steady progress on climate policy, and then trump was elected president and decided to see if he could reverse all this. he announced that he would
withdraw the u.s. from the paris agreement. he put the three stooges of fossil fuel, scott pruitt, ryan zinke, and rick perry in charge of climate policy. trump completely forgot his and his own family's own words from a full page "new york times" advertisement in 2009 calling climate change irrefutable and portending, quote, catastrophic and irreversible consequences. that was donald trump and his family in 2009. as bad as the news became coming out of washington, we saw action around the country to give us some reason for optimism. the leadership void left by the trump administration was filled by state and local governments, businesses, academic institutions, and faith organizations which pledged to honor the paris agreement.
california and washington state joined with canada, chili, colombia, costa rica and mexico to put a price on carbon that would reach up and down the west coast of the americas. black rock, the great investment firm, helped force exxonmobil to report its climate risk to its shareholders over management option. -- opposition. moody's announced that it will start using climate risk in rating the bonds of coastal communities. companies like microsoft an unit -- unilever adopted a carbon price to reduce the carbon intensity of their operations. this is, at heart, a battle of truth versus lies, and courts are a good forum for the truth.
californiaunic malities, as well as new york city, have sued fossil fuel companies under state law over the huge adaptation costs that they will have to bear from sea-level rise and extreme weather. state attorneys generals in massachusetts and new york are pursuing a fraud investigation into what exxonmobil has been covering up about its fossil fuels. so there you have it, over the last six years we are ever more aware of the accelerating pace of climate change and every more aware of the terrible threat that rising seas, increased temperatures, and more frequent extreme weather events pose. it has become harder and heard -- harder for the fossil fuel industry and the web of
front groups and trump administration officials who do its bidding to claim that there's nothing to see here, it's all a hoax, move along. and yet, despite all the information and all the evidence, this great institution, the united states senate, continues to sit silent, paralyzed by the threats of retribution coming from the fossil fuel fossil fuel lobby. -- fossil fuel lobby. when this started, i hoped we'd never get to 100, let alone 199 of these speeches. we ought to have solved this years ago. it is a disgrace that we didn't and it is a disgrace why we didn't.
if we remain as ineffective as we have been during the last six years, we will have failed ourselves and all future generations. america deserves better than this. a city on a hill with the eyes of the world upon it can ill afford to ignore such a problem. worst still when the reason is one all-powerful industry demanding obedience. america deserves better. the countries and people around the world who rely on and look to american leadership deserve better. at long last, mr. president, it is time for us to wake up here
and meet our responsibilities. i yield the floor to the distinguished chairman of the energy committee. and while she is here, may i thank her for her work clearing the nuclear innovation bill that senator crapo and i passed into law this afternoon by unanimous consent. the chairman's work with the ranking member clearing that bill was eential to getting it passed and she was a cosponsor and a critical force in getting it done, and i am grateful to her, and i say that as i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank my colleague, and i want to congratulate him and i want to recognize and congratulate senator crapo as well for his efforts. as we look to the energy solutions that can take our country and our planet to a place that is better, that
demonstrates truly greater environmental stewardship through uses of clean energy. one should almost immediately look to the benefits that nuclear is able to provide for us. coming from a fossil-producing state like alaska, people often ask if it's not someone in congress, i would be a supporter of nuclear, but i truly believe that when it comes to our energy portfolio and those that will allow us to have a balanced approach to our energy and our energy solutions, when we're talking about the afford ability, the accessibility and the security of supply, we must include and emphasize the clean energy supply and what the senator from rhode island continues to repeat is worth
repeating, and so focusing o how we move ourselves to a cleaner energy environment is something that we have had opportunities to visit on and one that i'm committed to. so i look forward to finding those areas of balance. mr. president, i'm here this afternoon for a brief few moments to pay tribute to an alaskan that we lost just within the past two weeks. my state is a state that's well known for the strength of its known profit sector and we lost one of our leaders of that sector, a very special person who is beloved by many. this is a gentleman, a friend by the name of jim balamicci, he was the chief executive officer of alaska's special olympics, he unexpectedly passed away at the age of 63.
this sunday i'm going to be home and i will join with thousands who will fill the alaska airlines arena on the university of alaska anchorage campus to celebrate jim and his contributions to the special olympics. jim was really a giant in special olympics, both at the local level and at the national level. and i think it is most fitting that the celebration of jim's life will occur during the weekend of the alaska special olympics winter games. this is going to provide an opportunity for the many special olympians, for the coaches, volunteers. i'm actually going to be there to help pass out awards there, but so many of us whose lives have been touched by jim's inspiration will be able to gather together to show our love and our a